Teachers group to file suit over GOP overnight override
The North Carolina Association of Educators said Thursday that it plans to file a lawsuit against the state after Republican lawmakers engineered a late-night vote targeting the teachers organization.
Gov. Beverly Perdue called the General Assembly into special session Wednesday to give lawmakers the chance to override her recent veto of legislation that essentially repeals a 2-year-old law that provides death row inmates with an avenue to challenge their sentences.
House Republicans couldn’t muster enough support for that override, but they quickly scheduled a session at 12:45 a.m. Thursday to override a veto Perdue handed down last summer on Senate Bill 727. The legislation bars the NCAE from collecting dues from members through payroll deduction.
The Senate voted in July to override that veto, but the House never took up the override until Thursday morning.
“Republican lawmakers came into the legislature at about 1 o’clock in the morning while our children were sleeping and took revenge on teachers who were standing up for our children,” an angry Perdue said Thursday afternoon. “That’s just shameful for North Carolina, shameful.”
Jack Nichols, an attorney for the NCAE, said the way the House vote was handled violated the state constitution. The legislation itself is also unconstitutional, he said, because it is written specifically to target the teachers group.
The State Employees Association of North Carolina and charities like the United Way also collect dues and donations through payroll deduction.
“The message from the legislature is clear: If you stand against cuts to public education, we will teach you a lesson,” NCAE President Sheri Strickland told supporters at a news conference.
Strickland played a clip of House Speaker Thom Tillis unknowingly speaking into an open microphone last spring during a Republican caucus, when he outlined plans to target the group, which has traditionally backed Democratic candidates and was lobbying hard against cuts to spending on public education.
“We just want to give them a little taste of what’s about to come,” Tillis told his fellow House Republicans at the time.
“The government just doesn’t have the right, under the constitution, to go teach a citizen a lesson, whatever that means,” state Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, said Thursday.